So, this was another weekend trip in our car. We were discussing school re-opening, friends and general timepass talks; by we, I mean – the husband, older daughter and myself.
As we drive by, my daughter, A, sees a mosque and asks me what it is. I tell A, “This is a mosque.”
I immediately spot a church and say, “And this is a church.”
Promptly comes a question, “And we pray in temples?”
I say, “Yes.”
A says, “Didi goes to the temple to pray?”, referring to our help at home.
I say, “No, she goes to the mosque.”, trying to believe I do not know what’s coming next.
A asks, “Why do people go to different places to pray?”
I swallow, think and say, “Some people believe in Jesus Christ and they go to the church. Some like us, go to temples…and others, who are Muslims go to the mosque.”
She looked confused, but went back to eating her biscuit. But I sit there feeling like I just erred. I told the husband, “I feel like I just did something wrong. Why should I have to tell her about different Gods and religions?” To which he softly replied, “You don’t have to.”
This conversation got me thinking. Thinking about how, we as parents, influence our children. Even in such basic matters.
I am a mother who tells her daughter to pray anywhere and at any time. I tell her that she needn’t wait for a temple or the photo of a God to pray. I tell her she’s being seen and heard always. And that God is her friend. That there is nothing to be scared of or be worried about. But when she asks me questions to which the answers are facts of the world, what do I do? How do I make it sound right?
How do we bring up our little ones, the future of this world telling them that humans are divided; not as men and women, but in the name of God! I tried doing it in the car that day and it felt wrong. Very wrong. And I do not intend to do it ever again.
Yes, I am someone with liberal religious views. I believe in God, but I believe in goodness more. I am just-about religious, but I am definitely spiritual.
I don’t want my daughters to be religious in the light of using God as an excuse their wrong doings. I don’t want my daughters to do the right things because they are scared of God, but do it for the right reasons. I don’t want them to have faith simply because their parents and friends have; let them have faith truly because that faith is their strength.
Yes, as parents, we must expose them to our ways and beliefs – I agree. Let them then grow up to be individuals who have the courage and faith to know what is right for them. As a mother, I will tell them that God is in goodness. Anywhere. Everywhere. In anyone. In everyone. I want them to know that no matter what the world says, being religious alone – away from being humane, does not bring anyone close to the entity we all refer to as God. But being a good human being is all that it takes to feel close to God.
So, will I not tell her the difference between mandir and masjid next time? Yes, I will. Because she has to live in this world and accept and respect others. Let her know that people have different faiths and ways of worship. Let her grow up to respect the goodness in every faith.
As Dalai Lama said, “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”
Rashmi Balakrishnan says: I am a four year old mother. Been around for 3-plus decades. Learning new lessons and unlearning a few old ones. I try and find happiness in small things. I dream. I laugh. I cry. I hear. And I try and do. Life is all about love, laughter and light for me.
Wish to read more about kids and religion? Here you go…